What kind of Traveller/ Backpacker are you?

2 Nov

Over the years, species of the travelling world have evolved into an eclectic mix, from the Bigger Budget Flashpackers to the Older Nomadic Travellers and Multi-Faceted Explorers.

Here’s my attempt at identifying some of them. Please feel free to agree, disagree, or inform me of any other species you may have spotted.

Bigger Budget Backpackers (Also known as Flashpackers)

Except this species don’t travel with backpacks, they have suitcases and handbags. Some people say Flashpackers are well groomed and armed with luxury items, and some say they simply have a lot of gadgets. But I like to think of the Flashpacker as a 21st Century Backpacker but with more money.

They basically travel the same routes but stay in hotels instead of hostels and stick mainly to towns, cities and places well connected to the internet. Venturing off the beaten track just wouldn’t be practical- their suitcase wheels would probably get stuck, but they’re probably willing to try.

Baby Boomer Trippers

Those belonging to this species went travelling in the 60’s/70’s, took too much acid and never returned home. They’re often spotted washed up on the beaches of tourist destinations which were “far more beautiful  40 years ago.”

The eyes of the Baby Boomer Tripper are a little mad and the years of heavy smoking and drinking have etched out unforgiving lines on their weathered faces.

Older Nomadic Travellers

People belonging to this species are always a joy to be around; they’re funny, charming, interesting and have been travelling for some time, perhaps staying in destinations for a year or 2 or more, before moving on.

Older Nomadic Travellers are story books full of inspiring and amusing tales, and they’re skilled in the art of conversation, without being self absorbed. They’re compassionate, optimistic, and have nothing to prove. Years of experience have given Older Nomadic Travellers an intelligent wisdom Travel Snobs wished they had.

Travel Snobs

Travel Snobs are the most likely out of all the species to think they cannot be categorized. They also think they’re better than you; it may not always be obvious on the outside, but those talking to them certainly sense it.

People of this species are usually in their early 20’s and feel that they’ve had more experience than the average 21st Century Backpacker. They tend to avoid other travellers and popular tourist destinations, preferring instead to befriend the locals and really get to the heart of the culture. If only they weren’t such a snob about it.

 Soul Searchers

These individuals in transition are on spiritual journeys to find themselves and in the process have developed a love for the natural world, accumulated a large collection of handmade jewellery, baggy clothes, and some may even have committed to a few dreadlocks with beads.

Soul Searchers are on the escape from capitalism and on the lookout for greater meaning through meditation, yoga and/ or crystals. They tend to avoid big cities, preferring instead to explore ashrams, temples and places with good energy.

Not to be confused with the Real Hippies.  

Real Hippies won’t be spotted on traditional backpacker circuits- not because they’re Travel Snobs, but because they’re far too busy doing stuff. They’re found all over the world, campaigning for ethical logging in Indonesia, protesting short distance flights in Europe, or on board boats, attempting to save the oceans. Real Hippies are a passionate and determined species with a purpose to travel greater than themselves.

Gap Year Students

Those of the Gap Year species are either 18 and seeking real worldly experience or 21 and trying to put off living in the real world. They will commonly partake in overly priced voluntourism projects advertised on websites such as gapyear.com. (www.vap.org.uk is a not-for-profit organisation which may be more useful)

Gap Year Students are essentially out to have fun and drinking and partying is a part of that. However, unlike the Boozers, they are also interested in exploring the culture of a country and learning about the history.


Boozers travel and hunt in packs, and if you do spot one alone, they’re probably nursing a severe hangover from drinking too many semi lethal concoctions the night before. This species simply want to have a laugh and a big part of that involves drinking, partying and having sex a lot.

Despite lacking an interest in the culture of a country and anything that doesn’t involve drinking, the Boozers will visit local must see attractions, such as watching monkeys roller-skating around in a ring. They’ll admit that it’s cruel, but they’ll video it anyway and say, “it’s fucking funny.”

21st Century Backpackers

Probably the most common of all the traveller species, they’re friendly, open minded, in their 20’s and can be found all over the world. They tend to travel the same routes as other 21st Century Backpackers, so it’s common for them to keep bumping into the same people.

21st Century Backpackers will religiously use their guide books (written by Older Nomadic Travellers) and use the internet fairly frequently to update their blogs, mainly read by their parents. Despite having an amazing time, they will every so often wonder where or how to get onto the unbeaten track found and used consistently by Hardcore Travellers.

Hardcore Travellers

Hardcore Travellers do no travel the beaten path- not because they’ve gone out of their way to like Travel Snobs, but because they just happen to attract interesting people and end up in unusual circumstances.

They’re likely to be travelling solo around the world on bicycles, hand built rafts/ canoes, or hitching lifts from strangers. This species is up for trying and doing almost anything and they are of course fearless, but not blindly so. Hardcore Travellers are just skilled in the art of knowing when to say yes or no.

The Tourists

The Tourists prefer to tour, not explore and will probably only spend a few days in each destination or however long their package tour leaders have decided necessary.

They can be spotted all over the world taking photos of one another in front of famous landmarks, must see sights and other attractions their guide or guide book has told them to do or see.

Older Middle Class Couple Travellers

This species is of the same generation as the Baby Boomer Trippers, only the Older Middle Class Couple Travellers have been playing happy families over the last few decades instead. The kids have grown up and/ or left home and they’re ready for a bit of adventure or some big lifestyle change.

They’re not really rich but they have enough money to afford to go swimming with dolphins/sharks/sea life and do interesting stuff and they’ll probably go away for about a month. However, they may love it so much, they’ll consider retiring out to one of their travelled to destinations, where they’ll become involved with developmental work in the community and/or teaching English.

Multi-Faceted Explorers

Multi-Faceted Explorers have a good sense of humour, they’re slightly weird, intelligent and they don’t normally begin conversations with new people in the standard way.

Rather than politely asking you how long you’ve been travelling, where you’ve been to already or what you do, they’re more likely to strike up conversations about insects, God (whether religious or not) or declare that they have a phobia for something unheard of like the small sticker labels found on fruit. They may not always be understood, but they are one of the more friendly species dominating the travel world.

17 Responses to “What kind of Traveller/ Backpacker are you?”

  1. Joan Hudson November 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Clare this blog is a brill piece of writing – so funny and delightful to read!! Where do we fit in with all these exotic species of humans I wonder. Mmm I’ll go for middle class traveller bot not the ‘older’ bit!
    Just been speaking with Jackie who’ll absolutely love this!!

  2. Joan Hudson November 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Another apt photo, Clare. Can you match the shoe to the type of traveller. What about Explorers. Is there anywhere left to explore. Have you heard of Wilfred Thesiger. He died recently but had an amazing life travelling and living in some very remote places.

    • clarehudson November 4, 2011 at 2:58 am #

      Older nomadic traveller? Hmmm not sure. Had no idea that his photos were in the Pitt Rivers Museum- would liked to have seen those.

      • clarehudson November 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

        Like that question- Is there anywhere left to explore? Might do a blog post on that.

  3. The Travel Chica November 7, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    Haven’t seen such a robust list of traveler types before. Nice job!

    • clarehudson November 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      Thanks, perhaps a little OTT but it got quite addictive writing it.

  4. Jane Eve November 7, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Brilliant blog Clare and where do you both fit in? Of course there can be a combinations as well.xx

    • clarehudson November 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Jane, I think we’re 21st Century Backpackers, but Dom reckons he’s closer to the Flashpacker species, and I think in the past I’ve been a bit of a Snob (although I hope not any more)/ Soul Searcher.

      • Jane Eve November 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

        Ha ha no I don’t see Dom with a suitcase with wheels and a handbag…but of course he likes his gadgets. 🙂
        I think perhaps 21st century soul searchers sounds good. I’d like to be the older middle class traveller. xx

  5. Alastair Cleret November 8, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    haha i like the list, maybe you missed out the classic german/english/american socks and sandles wearer, usually found in groups with overweight short haired polo shirt wearing women. They can often be seen sporting bum bags, big cameras on straps round there necks spewing out of coaches and complaining how there itinary differs from that of the tour guide, and if they are english or american they can often be heard complaining ‘its not like back home!’
    They usually move in packs, feeling safer in numbers in these strange lands and are easily scared. After a day of coach riding they retire with a gin & tonic a lobster red sunburnt face!

  6. Alastair Cleret November 8, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Also there is the Indian/chinese families similar to the socks and sandles wearers in their movements, but they display the habit of turning up at attractions taking as many posing shots in as short a time as possible then quickly scurrying back to their AC taxi’s and coaches. They have trouble adapting to new surroundings and can often look uneasy in the most beautiful/amazing of places, and will often be spotted having a quick walk on the beach fully clothed in jeans, jackets, and trainers in sweltering heat but never even wetting their toes.

    • clarehudson November 8, 2011 at 9:55 am #

      Yes! You’ve got it spot on. Really struggled with the classic Tourist species.

  7. lifeatnofixedabode November 28, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    Claire – LOVE this post! I was actually thinking of writing something similar once NaNoWriMo was over but you’ve beaten me too it and written it much better than I ever could have! Your descriptions are hilarious and SO TRUE! As for me, I think I’m a multi-faceted traveller. I definitely fall into the ‘Weird’ category! I’m hoping one day to become a hybrid of Multi Faceted/Older Nomadic Traveller 🙂

    • clarehudson November 28, 2011 at 11:43 am #

      Haha, yes Multi Faceted/ Older Nomadic Explorer- a great combination.

  8. lifeatnofixedabode November 28, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    Opps – sorry, just realised I spelt your name wrong in my last comment – it’s a personal pet hate when people spell my name wrong so big apologies and a little embarassment from me!!

  9. Margaret McLeod November 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Hello my friend! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include almost all important infos. I’d like to see more posts like this.


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